INQUIRY Learning Opportunities

The Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, also known as the Berger Inquiry, involved over two years of community testimony and legal hearings that addressed the social, environmental, and economic impacts of a proposed gas pipeline in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Representatives from Aboriginal communities, lawyers, business people, workers, and other constituency groups voiced their various concerns, objections, and support for the project. The INQUIRY exhibit includes Inquiry transcripts, stories, and photographs.

Students, staff, and faculty can engage with the exhibit in a number of ways:

  • Workshops: Curator and former journalist Drew Ann Wake will offer tailored workshops with courses from across campus to review the collected evidence and engage in role play from various Inquiry perspectives. Ms. Wake, with co-organizer Amy Perrault, has also invited several key individuals from the Inquiry to meet with students. Ms. Wake is consulting with faculty to design sessions that draw on course objectives and bridge in key concepts the project highlights.
  • Plenary session: On the morning of November 13th, Glen Coulthard, Julie Cruikshank, and Alestine Andre INSERT POSITIONS/CONNECTIONS TO BERGER INQUIRY HERE will speak about the political, social, educational, and historical dimensions of the Berger Inquiry and its legacies. INSERT LOCATION/TIME DETAILS HERE
  • CTLT Workshop: The Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology is hosting a guided workshop and facilitated conversation around the exhibit’s themes and teaching/learning potential. Faculty and TAs are especially encouraged to attend. (For more details and to register, click here.)
  • Student Research Collective: An interdisciplinary student research collective is developing around themes highlighted in the exhibit and relevant to a number of contemporary processes: Aboriginal community consultation, resource extraction, sustainable development, current pipeline projects, non-renewable energies.

Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning: Practice, Application, and Activism

This spring, Royann Petrell, an instructor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department, paired up with Kate Neville, an instructor in Political Science, to invite Mike Bell to speak with students enrolled in their courses CHBE 480: Hazardous Waste Processing Technology and POLI 375: Global Environmental Politics.

Mike is the co-chair of the Sierra Club in Comox Valley and discussed the concept of Earth Jurisprudence, a political-legal philosophy that emphasizes relationships between humans and the environment and the importance of a healthy earth.

Alaya Boisvert, community service coordinator for the Faculty of Applied Science, helped to design collaborative discussions after Mike’s talk to get students from engineering and political science working together on problems related to the environment, law, and governance.

In addition to catering this event and contributing an honorarium, UBC Mix matched Royann and Kate together to offer this innovative learning opportunity for their students. Both felt that their students benefited from the interdisciplinary dynamics Mike’s visit afforded.

Royann said, “Mike was [also] impressed by what happened. Each table had something different to add to the discussion. He and I are now convinced that Mixes have the potential to bring important issues to the attention of students.”

Kate agreed: “As environmental politics students, they often talk about interdisciplinary work (and many of them are also students of humanities and social sciences), but rarely interact with the applied sciences, so the interaction with the engineering students was valuable.” Kate’s students also expressed appreciation for the chance to hear a practitioner’s perspective: “We have not had the chance to interact with many people in the policy, advocacy, and activism communities directly, so Mike’s perspectives were of great interest to my students.”

On feedback forms, students were enthusiastic about interdisciplinarity and its real-world applications.

“This event is inspirational to my academic learning,” one student said. “It helps thinking outside the box and relating different disciplines together to a real-life project.”

“The interdisciplinary approach is one that fosters reflective insight from critical minds with different backgrounds,” wrote another.

“This was a pretty neat opportunity – I wish I participated in a lot more interdisciplinary work!”

Image credit: Chain of Wolves’ Flickr photostream